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May. 19, 2009 8:35 am

Today’s primary involves online advertising ballot question

The day’s primary polls in Philadelphia are open and lively already, and the Web, it would seem, is on the ballot. In what most analysts are, of course, suspecting will be a low turnout affair and media coverage has focused on contested Democratic primaries for district attorney and city controller, one of two citywide ballot […]

The day’s primary polls in Philadelphia are open and lively already, and the Web, it would seem, is on the ballot.

In what most analysts are, of course, suspecting will be a low turnout affair and media coverage has focused on contested Democratic primaries for district attorney and city controller, one of two citywide ballot questions just might have implications for the future of online advertising.

As city political oversight group the Committee of Seventy explains the second of two ballot questions today: “currently, the Home Rule Charter imposes specific advertising requirements with respect to certain legal notices of the city.”

A yes vote on the question would allow City Council to change the avenues through which newly incorporated businesses, city contracts and public hearings are publicized.

It just might help kick newspapers when they’re down.

The passed ballot question would allow the city to essentially take away advertising dollars mandated for the city’s daily and legal newspapers and offer the chance to use a variety of other sources, most notably including online news sources.

Currently, such legal notices can only run in certain newspapers, most prominently the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News, Philadelphia Business Journal and Legal Intelligencer. For a struggling print industry, that’s guaranteed money.

Below see the ballot question in its extraordinarily and unnecessarily confusing language:

Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to authorize Council to specify by ordinance adopted by a vote of two-thirds of all its members how and when notice of public hearings on bills, notice of bills reported from committees of Council, notice of procurement contracts available for bids, and notice of proposed administrative regulations, shall be given?

The Committee of Seventy offers a recommendation for the ballot question:

Seventy recommends a “yes” vote on the Charter proposal based on the overriding need for government to have the flexibility, particularly if the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News ever cease to operate. (The threat of closure because of the papers’ bankruptcy proceedings prompted the proposal in the first place.) The City must ensure that no public hearings are held, no laws are invalidated, no requests for sealed bids are rejected and no regulations are passed without proper, sufficient and timely notice.

The nonpartisan nonprofit also gives recommendations for if the ballot question passes or not. Read that and the group’s other thoughts for today’s election here.

The DA and controller races are Democratic primaries, meaning only voters registered to the Democratic Party can vote. However, any registered voter, no matter party affiliation, can vote on judicial races and both ballot questions — the advertising question discussed above and another about posthumously promoting any police officer, firefighter, or paramedic to the next rank after dying in the line of duty.

Find your polling place here. Find your elected officials here.

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Christopher Wink

Christopher Wink is a cofounder and Editorial Director of Technical.ly, the local technology news network. Previously, Wink worked for a homeless advocacy nonprofit and was a freelance reporter for a variety of publications. He writes regularly about news innovation and best business practices on his personal blog here. The bicycle commuter loves cities, urban politics and squabbling about neighborhood boundaries.

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